Kitchen Tips

Pastes Used in Korean Cooking

In a Korean pantry, the pastes are the most unique components that can be added to various dishes and used as dips to add that zing to Korean food. The three pastes used in Korean Cooking – Chunjang, Gochujang and Doenjang are the ones well-known.

1. Chunjang (pronounced CHO-jahng)

Pastes Used in Korean Cooking

Image Courtesy: Jens Ohlig used under the Creative Commons Licence

This is the Korean version of black bean sauce. It’s made by fermenting soybean with flour and salt. Before the ageing process, caramel colouring is added. Chun Jang is mainly used to make Jjajangmyun, Korean noodles with black bean sauce. It is also used as one of the seasonings in meat stir-fry.

2. Gochujang (pronounced GO-choo-jahng)

Pastes Used in Korean Cooking

Image Courtesy: kattebelletje used under the Creative Commons Licence

This is a spicy, salty, sweet and earthy paste as ubiquitous as ketchup. Gochujang is fermented chilli paste made with soybeans, sweet rice powder and salt. It tastes great when used as a thickener in stews or mixed in condiments. There is no exact substitute for Gochujang as there isn’t any pastes quite like it, so the next time you’re planning a meal centered on Asian food, keep Gochujang around.

3. Doenjang (pronounced DWAYN-jahng)

Pastes Used in Korean Cooking

Image Courtesy: Emily used under the Creative Commons Licence

Doenjang, a delicious fermented soy bean paste, has an unctuous salty flavour and a deep funk. It is commonly used in soups and makes a great base for casseroles. When mixed with other ingredients (such as Gochujang), it produces a delicious dipping sauce (Ssamjang). Good quality Doenjang should smell earthy, not stinky, and the colour should not be too dark.

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